Saving an Old Apple Tree

David88(5a W. Central IL)February 7, 2013

My sister has an old apple tree in her yard that my great uncle had developed about 100 years ago. At one time there were many in our area but to our knowledge this is the last surviving one. Her husband wants to cut it down and she does not know how much longer she can hold him off. About twenty years ago our cousin tried to graft some cuttings but none of them worked. I have read that if you cut a small section of bark around a stem and put rooting hormone on it and then surround it with soil and seal it up it will develop roots and then you can plant it. Has anyone tried this successfully? Are there better ways? I have never tried grafting and really want something as foolproof as possible. This tree has sentimental meaning to me and my family and I would like to get several growing.

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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Google 'air-layering' for specifics on the method you are contemplating. Grafting is much more reliable than air-layering for all apple cultivars, as far as I know. Different cultivars have very different take-rates for rooting cuttings (and layering branches). Sounds like your cousin may not have done something right.

I wonder why your brother-in-law wants to cut the tree down.

You might want to consider contacting a local orchardist to see if you could get some help with grafting. I bet you could find someone that would be VERY HAPPY to help you save a threatened apple cultivar. Many would probably accept a scion for their own use as payment for their service. If you can't find someone locally, post a request on the Fruit and Orchards Forum.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 11:09PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You might make a call/visit to your local extension office. You never might very well get some help there.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 5:44AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i would direct you to the fruit forum ...

and ask there.. if there are any providers.. who will do this for you ...

why not pay to have it done.. and be insured of success ...

or try googling something like 'custom grafting of apple trees' ....

its grafting time right now.. you might be able to have trees back this summer.. or fall at the latest ... i dont know how it all times out with apples ...


    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 9:30AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

curiosity got the better of me.. check out the first two links ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 12:18PM
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If you have an apple rootstock, grafting the apple you want to save onto any apple should work well. Now is the perfect time of year. I've grafted onto mature trees and also small crabapple seedlings two or three years old. For me the way to success was in wrapping the graft well to prevent dehydration. Remember to align cambium on the scion to cambium on the rootstock.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 9:58PM
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